The Nuanced Mixing of Ha + Ṭha

Because Yoga is multi-layered, the engagement of the practitioner also needs to be multi-layered. However, with layers comes complication and the opportunity to mix things up and end up off track. A main feature of what we will discuss in the 30h Āyurvedic Immersion is sūtra 1.16 from Patañjali’s Yoga Sūtras.

तत्परं पुरुषख्यातेः गुणवैतृष्ण्यम्
tatparaṁ puruṣa-khyāteḥ guṇa-vaitr̥ṣṇyam
The Supreme Puruṣa (self as Atman/Soul) is realized by showing indifference to the qualities of the objects of nature.

But, if we just turn away from them, we will actually be absorbed – eaten whole – by them! We’ll think we are “indifferent” but really we’ll just be covered. Covering is Tamas. It is not Sattva. Tamas (ignorance) can seem like Sattva (clarity) because they share similar guṇas (attributes) like stillness, stability, coolness, but one is heavy and one is light. One blocks change and the other is the essential ingredient of it!

So, to achieve the goals of śloka 1.16, we need to turn TOWARD the attributes of life (20 guṇas) and the attributes of the mind (3 mahā guṇas). This is not to indulge in them, but to learn to see them, so we can master them, and then overcome them!

Our senses (10 of them!) are what we use to interact with the 20 guṇas. The 3 mahā guṇas of the mind teach us how and when to interact with them. Yoga śastra (teachings) instructs us to practice pratyāhara (withdrawal of the senses). However, often our senses are so inundated due to modern life, we are not always aware we are using them.

How can we overcome the guṇas if we are unaware of the guṇas?

It’s not possible!

This is the purpose of the course actually. We will be learning to experience the 20 guṇas individually and then explore how to work them into the physical practice. Our āsana practices use the senses, but they can be more controlled than when we are off the mat.

We can control where we place our feet and how, what variations we take and why, where and what we do with our eyes, if we have music playing and what kind etc.

We’ll also learn how to play with the guṇas in the body, in the breath, and with our attention. This is a really exciting way to move into the state of Dhāraṇā (concentration), by the way, because all of our attention will be truly wholly absorbed in what we are doing – and attempting to do it with precision. It’s like internal juggling.